Ace cuiest Pankaj Advani has thrown his hat into the ring of the upcoming Billiards and Snooker Federation of India's (BSFI) polls and would be contesting for the post of its vice president. However, the decision will not rob the country of him as a player, Advani insisted in an interview to PTI here on the sidelines of the CCI Open Snooker tournament.
"I'm going to contest for the post of vice president of BSFI, let's see what happens. I mean it is good if we have people on the same page who can make informed decisions and take the sport forward," the 33-year-old Bengaluru-based multiple time world champion said. The BFSI polls are to be held in Bengaluru on March 23 and other top players like Alok Kumar and Devendra Joshi are also in the fray.
Advani, an office-bearer in the Karnataka State Billiards Association, said players now needed to sit across the table with administrators and deal with their issues. "At the beginning, I would like to say my priority is to be a player first. Before any administrative role I chose to take up, or if I win the election, I feel as a player my first priority will be to represent my country and perform for India," he said.
"At the same time, I feel like it is good if we have a healthy mix of players and administrators in the Federation. And I believe the time has come now where we sit across the table and communicate to the administrators as to what our issues are and how can they be best handled and have a healthy dialogue," he said.
Advani said that is why he feels it is time to get into the federation and maybe see what those issues are and what can be done to address these issues "Whether it is to popularise the sport, or give players more opportunities to play in events, more earning opportunities - things like that - or develop the grass-root levels, get more regions involved like the Northeast which have been inactive. So that's the only idea," he said. Asked about his experience as joint secretary of the Karnataka State Billiards Association, Advani said he learnt a lot of things in terms of how to interact with the administrators and what the issues are.
"We have done quite a few events, but they have been done with a few difficulties and I feel like the whole idea, whether it is me today or any other (player) who has entered into administration, is to bridge the gap between the Federation and the athlete," he said. Advani said in any sport the relationship between the athlete and the governing body is a very tricky one.
There are certain things which, maybe, the player doesn't understand from the administrator's point of view and likewise the administrators dont understand what the players are going through at times, he said. "So it's only to bridge the gap in terms of communication and I feel if some of the top players enter BSFI it could make a difference in actually bridging that gap," he stressed.
After the CCI tournament, Advani will be also be participating in a couple of international tournaments. "The CCI open is going on and it's great they have been supporting snooker every year. But we have a few international tournaments coming up, in fact one them is going to be organised by the Karnataka State Billiards Association, where I happen to the joint secretary," he said.
"But I am playing in that,the Asian Tour 10 Red event, and immediately after that we have another tournament in Chandigarh, which is the Asian Billiards Championship," he added..